Exploring the Enchantress at the Center of ‘Loki’
June 23, 2021
Marvel Explained is our new ongoing series where we delve into the latest Marvel shows, movies, trailers, and news stories to divine the franchise’s future. In this entry, we explore Loki Episode 3 (“Lamentis”) and examine how the Loki variant Sylvie is more than an Enchantress. Yes, prepare for SPOILERS.
Part of you must feel sorry for the Time Variance Authority. So much of their time is consumed by Loki variants. These rascally pests are constantly splitting from the one-true timeline, causing mischief, attempting to forge their own jagged path when only a singular street is meant to be. The Lokis are cockroaches forever in need of squishing, and now the TVA has two huge annoyances that require more than a boot or the usual garden-variety pruning stick. The TVA can’t even be happy about the overtime they’re pulling because they’re never over — they’re always on.
Loki Episode 3 (“Lamentis”) opens with the TVA in a scramble. Last week, the Lady Loki variant (Sophia Di Martino) ignited countless Nexus events across time, causing the Minutemen to flee their offices to parts unknown. While they’re racing to prevent a multiverse from springing, our Loki (Tom Hiddleston) follows his copy through a portal and back to the bureaucratic agency that evaporated his fine Asgardian leather. She wants into the golden elevators that will grant her a face-to-face with the Time-Keepers, and he wants… Well, he wants what she wants. Or, at least, he thinks so.
Golden elevators, however, are harder to access than they are to look at. Judge Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha–Raw) puts herself between the invaders and her bosses. In the scuffle, the Lokis portal to an apocalypse where the TVA can’t trace their pesky variant signature. Unfortunately, their TemPad is low on juice, and they find themselves stuck on Lementis-1 in the year 2077. As the planet above them shatters into a million meteors, the two Lokis drag themselves across the moon, hoping to secure passage on the one rocket that can free them from this doomed surface.
As they bob and weave certain doom, the Lokis converse and bicker. Our Loki needles the other by slamming the word “variant” on her person, and she rejects his careless terminology. He scoffs and proclaims that he will never call “some faded photocopy” a Loki. And she’s cool with that because she no longer goes by that name. She’s “Sylvie.”
Who is Sylvie?
The new name revealed in Loki Episode 3 is curious. While we are not exactly sure at which point in the one-true timeline Sylvie broke away, it’s clear that it happened a long time ago for her. She tells Loki that she barely remembers her mother. This could be a lie. Gods of mischief tend to do that. But, if it is a lie, she sells it well.
Loki regales her with a tale about how dear departed mom would magically cast fireworks over a lake. Both exude sadness in the telling. He laments the death that’s yet to come, and she laments the memory that currently resembles little more than blips of a dream.
Sylvie’s history is not Loki’s history. When she tore loose from the timeline, her parents revealed her Frost Giant origins to her freely. Sylvie didn’t need to wage war with Odin to get the truth. Her hurt is not his hurt. But there is definitely a hurt present.
Her mission to steal facetime with the Time-Keepers appears to be similar to Loki’s desire for an audience. He wants to tap into whatever makes Infinity Stones look like trinkets. For a person who has craved power and import his whole life, the Time-Keepers currently represent unlimited potential. If he could get what they have, he’d be unstoppable.
But that’s old Loki thinking. To infer that Sylvie craves what the Time-Keepers have for the same reasons as Loki is a miscalculation. She has been at this game for far longer, and she is more aware of what’s going on behind TVA doors. She knows that agents like Mobius (Owen Wilson) were not born for this purpose but were shackled to their desks as some form of punishment. For they are variants, too.
Sylvie can forge her way into people’s minds. She’s an enchantress. Where Loki can cast illusions, Sylvie can wrap your brain in a spell. Under this delusion, her victims do and say what they don’t want to do or say. And this ability, and her name, suggest a dark origin within Marvel Comics.
Who is the Loki Enchantress?
Sylvie’s comic book counterpart is not a Loki variant, as she still seems to be in Loki Episode 3, but a magical Loki fabrication. As explained in the Dark Reign: Young Avengers series, Loki relished the idea of creating a mortal who believed they were Asgardian. His Sylvie possessed superhuman strength, speed, and longevity. She could also forge illusions and manipulate, or enchant, feeble minds.
Given her abilities, Loki’s creation adopted the Enchantress name. The original Enchantress, named Amora, is an Asgardian sorceress dating back to the earliest Thor comics (her first appearance was in Journey Into Mystery #103, published in 1964). Like Loki, Enchantress is a constant thorn in Odinson’s side, and she most recently, on the page, attempted dominance over Midgard alongside Malekith, the Thor: The Dark World baddie.
Enchantress is a staple in the Asgardian rogue’s gallery. Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off, many have waited for her to arrive on the scene. Several fans even imagined Cate Blanchett would be playing a version of Enchantress in Thor: Ragnarok before the actress’ role was revealed to be Hela.
The comics are stacked on decades of complicated, convoluted continuity. What the MCU has always done is snip and clip from them. Their Flag-Smashers are not the comic book Flag-Smasher. Their Zemo is not the comic book Baron Zemo. And their Enchantress, in Loki, is absolutely not the comic book Enchantress — or Enchantresses.
The Loki variant concept allows for some radical alterations. The TVA and the Time-Keepers are fairly self-contained within a few Marvel comic book stories. As filtered through the MCU, they can smash against anything and anyone within the franchise. Through Nexus events, writers and directors can bend the comic book characters into something new and something more fitting to their thematic wants.
And the Disney+ Sylvie is still a creation of Loki. Just not in the same way she was in the comics. She extends from him, but she’s also shed him.
The Enchantress is a vibe. She’s a rejection of authority and what should and should not be. For all Loki’s talk of “glorious purpose,” what he’s discovering in this show is that he actually lacks it. Sylvie does not. We can’t quite assume to know everything she’s chasing, but Sylvie appears far more goal-oriented.
Sylvie has been dodging Minutemen for far longer than Loki has. Years? Decades? Centuries? Loki and we, the audience, have a lot to learn from her. We can only hope she can stand to stare at his gob long enough to let more details slip.
Loki Episode 3 presents a possible partnership, not a rivalry. And that begs the question: who is the villain here? The TVA? Judge Renslayer? The Time-Keepers? Kang the Conqueror?
With every new glance of that middle Time-Keeper statue in Renslayer’s office, it looks more and more like Jonathan Majors, the man who will be Kang in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. I don’t want to start spotting Mephistos in every shadow, but there is certainly something more nefarious at play regarding the one-true timeline and those that guard it. So, when those golden elevators finally reach their floor, it’s a decent bet to contemplate Mr. Majors sitting behind a fine oak desk.